National Geographic is in development on a scripted adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s best-selling Space Race book The Right Stuff, with Leonardo DiCaprio attached as an executive producer, the network announced Tuesday at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour.
The Right Stuff takes a gritty, anti-nostalgic look at what would become America’s first reality show, as obsessive astronauts and their families become instant celebrities in a competition that will either kill them or make them immortal. The one-hour drama will follow the protagonists from the Mojave Desert to the edges of space, with future seasons carrying through to humankind’s greatest achievement — the moon landing.
The series will actually use the book as a launching point, with a new mission each season. The first season will begin at the height of the Cold War, with a handful of adrenaline-junkie test pilots are living in the Mojave Desert, risking their lives daily to become the fastest on earth. Meanwhile, America is against the ropes as the Soviets dominate the space race — they’ve not only beat us to put a satellite in orbit, but there is an ever-growing fear they can drop nuclear weapons from above. With the public wondering if we are a nation in decline, the U.S. government conceives the Mercury Program, America’s attempt to beat the Soviets and put the first person in space. Now they need to find the perfect team — seven heroes willing to risk almost certain death to achieve international fame and reclaim the ultimate high ground, outer space.
The project — a collaboration between NatGeo and Appian Way, in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television — hails from executive producers DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson, along with Will Staples, who will write and executive produce.